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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 06 Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea a online

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CHAP. XI. Early English voyages of discovery to America. Introduction.

SECT. I. Discovery of Newfoundland by John and Sebastian Cabot in 1497,
in the service of Henry VII. of England.

II. Discourse by Galeacius Butrigarius, Papal Legate in Spain,
respecting the Discoveries in America, by Sebastian Cabot.

III. Notice concerning Sebastian Cabot by Ramusio, in the Preface to the
third Volume of his Navigations.

IV. Notice respecting the voyage of Sebastian Cabot to the north-west,
from Peter Martyr ab Angleria.

V. Testimony of Francisco Lopez de Gomara, concerning the discoveries of
Sebastian Cabota.

VI. Note respecting the discoveries of Sebastian Cabot; from the latter
part of Fabians Chronicle.

VII. Brief notice of the discovery of Newfoundland, by Mr Robert

CHAP. XI SECT. VIII. Grant by Edward VI. of a Pension and the Office of
Grand Pilot of England to Sebastian Cabot.

IX. Voyage of Sir Thomas Pert and Sebastian Cabot about the year 1516,
to Brazil, St Domingo, and Porto Rico.

X. Brief note of a voyage by Thomas Tison to the West Indies, before the
year 1526.

CHAP XII. The Voyages of Jacques Cartier from St Maloes to Newfoundland
and Canada, in the years 1534 and 1535.


SECT. I. The first voyage of Jacques Cartier to Newfoundland and Canada,
in 1534.

II. The second voyage of Jacques Cartier, to Canada, Hochelega,
Saguenay, and other lands now called New France; with the Manners and
Customs of the Natives.

III. Wintering of Jacques Cartier in Canada in 1536, and return to
France in 1537.

BOOK III. Continuation of the Discoveries and Conquests of the
Portuguese in the East; together with some account of the early voyages
of other European Nations to India.

CHAP. I. Discoveries, Navigations, and Conquests of the Portuguese in
India, from 1505 to 1539, both inclusive, resumed from Book I. of this

SECT. I. Course of the Indian Trade before the Discovery of the Route by
the Cape of Good Hope, with some account of the settlement of the Arabs
on the East Coast of Africa.


SECT. II. Voyage of Don Francisco de Almeyda from Lisbon to India, in
quality of Viceroy, with an account of some of his transactions on the
Eastern coast of Africa and Malabar.

III. Some Account of the state of India at the beginning of the
sixteenth Century, and commencement of the Portuguese Conquests.

IV. Continuation of the Portuguese Transactions in India, during the
Viceroyalty of Almeyda.

V. Transactions of the Portuguese in India under the Government of Don
Alfonso de Albuquerque, from the end of 1509, to the year 1515.

VI. Portuguese Transactions in India, under several governors, from the
close of 1515, to the year 1526.

VII. Continuation of the Portuguese Transactions in India; from 1526 to

CHAP. II. Particular Relation of the Expedition of Solyman Pacha from
Suez to India against the Portuguese at Diu, written by a Venetian
Officer who was pressed into the Turkish Service on that occasion.

SECT. I. The Venetian Merchants and Mariners at Alexandria are pressed
into the Turkish service, and sent to Suez. Description of that place.
Two thousand men desert from the Gallies. Tor. Island of Soridan Port of

II. Arrival at Jiddah, the Port of Mecca. The islands of Alfas, Kamaran,
and Tuiche. The Straits of Bab-al-Mandub.

III. Arrival at Aden, where the Sheikh and four others are hanged.
Sequel of the Voyage to Diu.

CHAP. II. SECT. IV. The Castle of Diu is besieged by the Moors. The
Turks plunder the City, and the Indian Generals withdraw in resentment.
The Pacha lands. A man 300 years old. Women burn themselves. The Fleet

V. A Bulwark Surrenders to the Turks, who make Galley-slaves of the
Portuguese Garrison; with several other incidents of the siege.

VI. Farther particulars of the siege, to the retreat of the Turks, and
the commencement of their Voyage back to Suez.

VII. Continuation of the Voyage back to Suez, from the Portuguese
factory at Aser, to Khamaran and Kubit Sharif.

VIII. Transactions of the Pacha at Zabid, and continuation of the Voyage
from Kubit Sarif.

IX. Continuation of the Voyage to Suez, along the Arabian Shore of the
Red Sea.

X. Conclusion of the Voyage to Suez, and return of the Venetians to

CHAP. III. The Voyage of Don Stefano de Gama from Goa to Suez, in 1540,
with the intention of Burning the Turkish Gallies at that port. Written
by Don Juan de Castro, then a Captain in the Fleet; afterwards
governor-general of Portuguese India.


SECT. I. Portuguese Transactions in India, from the Siege of Diu by the
Turks, to the Expedition of Don Stefano de Gama to Suez.

II. Journal of the Voyage from Goa to the Straits of Bab-el-Mandub.

III. Continuation of the Voyage, from the Straits of Bab-el-Mandub to

CHAP. III. SECT. IV. Digression respecting the History, Customs, and
State of Abyssinia.

V. Continuation of the Journal of De Castro from Massua to Swakem.

VI. Continuation of the Voyage from Swakem to Comol.

VII. Continuation of the Voyage from the Harbour of Comol to Toro or Al

VIII. Continuation of the Voyage from Toro or Al Tor to Suez.

IX. Return Voyage from Suez to Massua.

X. Return of the Expedition from Massua to India.

XI. Description of the Sea of Kolzum, otherwise called the Arabian Gulf,
or the Red Sea. Extracted from the Geography of Abulfeda.

POSTSCRIPT. - Transactions of the Portuguese in Abyssinia, under Don
Christopher de Gama.

CHAP. IV. Continuation of the Portuguese transactions in India, after
the return of Don Stefano de Gama from Suez in 1541, to the Reduction of
Portugal under the Dominion of Spain in 1581.

SECT. I. Incidents during the Government of India by Don Stefano de
Gama, subsequent to his Expedition to the Red Sea.

II. Exploits of Antonio de Faria y Sousa in Eastern India.

III. Transactions during the Government of Martin Alfonso de Sousa, from
1542 to 1543.

IV. Government of India by Don Juan de Castro, from 1545 to 1548.

V. Transactions of the Portuguese in India, from 1545 to 1564, under
several Governors.

VI. Continuation of the Portuguese Transactions in India, from 1564 to
the year 1571.

VII. Portuguese Transactions in India from 1571 to 1576.

CHAP. IV. SECT. VIII. Transactions of the Portuguese in Monomotapa,
from 1569 to the end of that separate government.

IX. Continuation of the Portuguese Transactions in India, from 1576 to
1581; when the Crown of Portugal was usurped by Philip II. of Spain on
the Death of the Cardinal King Henry.

X. Transactions of the Portuguese in India, from 1581 to 1597.

XI. Continuation of the Portuguese Transactions in India, from 1597 to

XII. Continuation of the Portuguese Transactions, from 1512 to 1517.






Although we have already, in the Introduction to the _Second_ Chapter of
this Book, Vol. III. p. 346. given some notices of the voyages of John
and Sebastian Cabot to America in the service of Henry VII. and VIII. it
appears proper on the present occasion to insert a full report of every
thing that is now known of these early navigations: As, although no
immediate fruits were derived from these voyages, England by their means
became second only to Spain in the discovery of America, and afterwards
became second likewise in point of colonization in the New World. The
establishments of the several English colonies will be resumed in a
subsequent division of our arrangement.

It has been already mentioned that Columbus, on leaving Portugal to
offer his services to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain for the discovery
of the Indies by a western course through the Atlantic, sent his brother
Bartholomew to make a similar offer to Henry VII. King of England, lest
his proposals might not have been listened to by the court of Spain.
Bartholomew, as has been formerly related, was taken by pirates; and on
his arrival in England was forced to procure the means of living, and of
enabling himself to appear before the king, by the construction and sale
of sea-charts and maps, in which he had been instructed by his brother.
Owing to this long delay, when he at length presented himself to King
Henry, and had even procured the acceptance of his brothers proposals,
so much time had been lost that Isabella queen of Castille had already
entered into the views of his illustrious brother, who had sailed on his
second voyage to the West Indies, while Bartholomew was on his journey
through France to announce to him that Henry King of England had agreed
to his proposals.

The fame of the astonishing discovery made by Columbus in 1591, soon
spread throughout Europe; and only four years afterwards, or in 1595, a
patent was granted by Henry VII. to John Cabot, or Giovani Cabota, a
Venetian citizen, then resident in England, and his three sons, Lewis,
Sebastian, and Sancius, and their heirs and deputies, to sail to all
parts countries and seas of the east west and north, at their own cost
and charges, with five ships; to seek out discover and find whatsoever
islands, countries, regions, or provinces belonging to the heathen and
infidels, were hitherto unknown to Christians, and to subdue, occupy,
and possess all such towns, cities, castles, and islands as they might
be able; setting up the royal banners and ensigns in the same, and to
command over them as vassals and lieutenants of the crown of England, to
which was reserved the rule, title, and jurisdiction of the same. In
this grant Cabot and his sons, with their heirs and deputies, were bound
to bring all the fruits, profits, gains, and commodities acquired in
their voyages to the port of Bristol; and, having deducted from the
proceeds all manner of necessary costs and charges by them expanded, to
pay to the king in wares or money the fifth part of the free gain so
made, in lieu of all customs of other dues; of importation on the same.
By these letters patent; dated at Westminster on the 5th of March in the
eleventh year of Henry VII. all the other subjects of England are
prohibited from visiting or frequenting any of the continents, islands,
villages, towns, castles, or places which might be discovered by John
Cabot, his sons, heirs, or deputies, under forfeiture of their ships and

[Footnote 1: Hakluyt, III. 26.]

No journal or relation remains of the voyages of Cabot and his sons in
consequence of this grant, and we are reduced to a few scanty memorials
concerning them; contained in the third volume of _Hakluyt's Collection
of the Early Voyages, Travels, and Discoveries of the English Nation_.
We quote from the new edition, _with additions_, published at London in

Two years after the before-mentioned letters patent, or on the 18th of
February 1497, a licence was granted by the same king of England, Henry
VII. to John Cabot, to take six English ships in any haven or havens of
England, being of 200 tons burden or under, with all necessary
furniture; and to take also into the said ships all such masters,
mariners, or other subjects of the king as might be willing to engage
with him.

It would appear that the patent of 1495 had never been acted upon; but
in consequence of this new licence, John Cabot and his son Sebastian
proceeded from the port of Bristol and discovered an island somewhere on
the coast of America to which they gave the name of _Prima Vista_,
probably the island of Newfoundland. The short account of this voyage of
discovery left to us by Hakluyt, is said to have been inserted in Latin
on a map constructed by Sebastian Cabot, concerning his discovery in
America, then called the West Indies; which map, engraved by Clement
Adams, was to be seen in the time of Hakluyt in the private gallery of
Queen Elizabeth at Westminster, and in the possession of many of the
principal merchants in London. This memorandum, translated into English,
is as follows[2].

[Footnote 2: Id. III. 27.]


_Discovery of Newfoundland by John and Sebastian Cabot in 1497, in the
service of Henry VII. of England._

"In the year 1497, John Cabot a Venetian and his son Sebastian,
discovered on the 24th of June, about five in the morning, that land to
which no person had before ventured to sail, which they named _Prima
Vista_[3], or, _first-seen_, because as I believe it was the first part
seen by them from the sea. The island which is opposite[4] he named St
Johns Island, because discovered on the day of St John the Baptist. The
inhabitants of this island use the skins and furs of wild beasts for
garments, which they hold in as high estimation as we do our finest
clothes. In war they use bows and arrows, spears, darts, clubs, and
slings. The soil is sterile and yields no useful production; but it
abounds in white bears and deer much larger than ours. Its coasts
produce vast quantities of large fish, among which are _great seals_,
salmons, soles above a yard in length, and prodigious quantities
especially of cod, which are commonly called _bacallaos_[5]. The hawks,
partridges, and eagles of this island are all black."

[Footnote 3: Presuming that this discovery was Newfoundland, a name
nearly of the same import, perhaps the land first seen was what is now
called Cape Bonavista, in lat. 48° 50' N. long. 62° 32' W. from London.
In the text, there is every reason to believe that it is meant to
indicate, that Cabot named the island he discovered St Johns, and only
the first seen point of land Prima-Vista. - E.]

[Footnote 4: By this phrase is probably to be understood, the island
behind this first-seen cape named _Prima-Vista_. - E.]

[Footnote 5: _Vulgari Sermoni_, is translated by Hakluyt, _in the
language of the savages_; but we have given it a different sense in the
text, that used by Hakluyt having no sufficient warrant in the
original. - E.]

Besides the foregoing memorandum on the ancient map, Hakluyt gives the
following testimonies respecting the discovery of the northern part of
America, by Cabot.


_Discourse by Galeacius Butrigarius, Papal Legate in Spain, respecting
the Discoveries in America, by Sebastian Cabot_[6].

Do you know how to sail for the Indies towards the northwest, as has
been lately done by a Venetian citizen, a valiant man and so learned in
all things pertaining to navigation and cosmography, that no one is
permitted to sail as pilot to the West Indies who has not received his
licence, he being pilot-major of Spain? This person, who resides in the
city of Seville, is Sebastian Cabot, a native of Venice, who is most
expert in these sciences, and makes excellent sea-charts with his
own-hands. Having sought his acquaintance, he entertained us in a
friendly manner, showing us many things, and among these a large map of
the world containing sundry navigations, both those of the Spaniards and
Portuguese. On this occasion he gave us the following information.

[Footnote 6: Hakluyt, III. 27. from the second volume of Ramusio.]

His father went many years since from Venice to England, where he
followed the profession of a merchant, taking this person his son along
with him to London, then very young, yet having received some tincture
of learning, and some knowledge of the sphere. His father died about the
time when news was spread abroad that Don Christopher Columbus, the
Genoese, had discovered the coasts of the Indies by sailing towards the
west, which was much admired and talked of at the court of King Henry
VII. then reigning in England, so that every one affirmed that it was
more attributable to divine inspiration than human wisdom, to have thus
sailed by the west unto the east, where spices grow, by a way never
known before. By these discourses the young man, Sebastian Cabot, was
strongly incited to perform some notable and similar action; and
conceiving by the study of the sphere that it would be a shorter route
for going to India, than that attempted by Columbus, to sail by the
north-west, he caused the king to be informed thereof, who accordingly
gave orders that he should be furnished with two ships, properly
provided in all things for the voyage. He sailed with these from England
in the beginning of summer 1496, if I rightly remember, shaping his
course to the north-west, not expecting to find any other land
intervening between and Cathay or Northern China. He was much
disappointed by falling in with land running toward the north, the coast
of which he sailed along to the lat. of 56° N. and found it still a
continent. Finding the coast now, to turn towards the east, and
despairing to find the passage to India and Cathay of which he was in
search, he turned again and sailed down the coast towards the
equinoctial line, always endeavouring to find a passage westwards for
India, and came at length to that part of the continent which is now
called Florida[7]. And his victuals running short, he bore away for
England; where he found the country in confusion preparing for war with
Scotland, so that no farther attention was paid to his proposed

[Footnote 7: Florida is here to be taken in the extended sense as at
first applied to the whole eastern coast of North America, to the north
of the Gulf of Mexico. The commencement of this voyage appears to have
been in search of a north-west passage; but Sebastian must have gone far
above 56° N. to find the land trending eastwards: He was probably
repelled by ice and cold weather. - E.]

He went afterwards into Spain, where he was taken into the service of
Ferdinand and Isabella, who furnished him with ships at their expence,
in which he went to discover the coast of Brazil, where he found a
prodigiously large river, now called the _Rio de la Plata_, or Silver
River, up which he sailed above 120 leagues, finding every where a good
country, inhabited by prodigious numbers of people, who flocked from
every quarter to view the ships with wonder and admiration. Into this
great river a prodigious number of other rivers discharged their waters.
After this he made many other voyages; and waxing old, rested at home
discharging the office of chief pilot, and leaving the prosecution of
discovery to many young and active pilots of good experience.


_Notice concerning Sebastian Cabot by Ramusio, in the Preface to the
third Volume of his Navigations._[8]

In the latter part of this volume are contained certain relations of
Giovani de Varanzana of Florence, of a certain celebrated French
navigator, and of two voyages by Jacques Cartier a Breton, who sailed to
the land in 50° north latitude, called New France; it not being yet
known whether that land join with the continent of Florida and New
Spain, or whether they are separated by the sea into distinct islands,
so as to allow of a passage by sea to Cathay and India. This latter was
the opinion of Sebastian Cabota, our countryman, a man of rare knowledge
and experience in navigation, who wrote to me many years ago, that he
had sailed along and beyond this land of New France in the employment of
Henry VII. of England. He informed me that, having sailed a long way to
the north-west, beyond these lands, to the lat. of 67-1/2° N. and
finding the sea on the 11th of June entirely open and without
impediment, he fully expected to have passed on that way to Cathay in
the east; and would certainly have succeeded, but was constrained by a
mutiny of the master and mariners to return homewards. But it would
appear that the Almighty still reserves this great enterprise of
discovering the route to Cathay by the north-west to some great prince,
which were the easiest and shortest passage by which to bring the
spiceries of India to Europe. Surely this enterprise would be me most
glorious and most important that can possibly he imagined, and would
immortalize him who succeeded in its accomplishment far beyond any of
those warlike exploits by which the Christian nations of Europe are
perpetually harassed.

[Footnote 8: Hakluyt, III. 28.]

SECTION IV. _Notices respecting the voyage of Sebastian Cabot to the
northwest, from Peter Martyr ab Algeria_[9].

These northern seas have been searched by Sebastian Cabot, a Venetian,
who was carried when very young to England by his parents, who, after
the manner of the Venetians, left no part of the world unsearched to
obtain riches. Having fitted out two ships in England at his own
expence, with three hundred men, he first directed his course so near
the north pole, that on the 11th of July he found monstrous heaps of ice
swimming in the sea, and a continual day, so that the land was free from
ice, having been thawed by the perpetual influence of the sun. By reason
of this ice he was compelled to turn southwards along the western land,
till he came unto the latitude of the Straits of Gibraltar[10]. In the
course of this north-west voyage he got so far to the west as to have
the island of Cuba on his left hand, having reached to the same
longitude[11]. While sailing along the coast of this great land, which
he called _Baccalaos_[12], he found a similar current of the sea towards
the west[13] as had been observed by the Spaniards in their more
southerly navigations, but more softly and gently than had been
experienced by the Spaniards. Hence it may be certainly concluded that
in both places, though hitherto unknown, there must be certain great
open spaces by which the waters thus continually pass from the east to
the west; which waters I suppose to be continually driven round the
globe by the constant motion and impulse of the heavens, and not to be
alternately swallowed and cast up again by the breathing of Demogorgon,
as some have imagined on purpose to explain the ebb and flow of the sea.
Sebastian Cabot himself named these lands _Baccalaos_, because he found
in the seas thereabout such multitudes of certain large fishes like
tunnies, called _baccalaos_ by the natives, that they sometimes stayed
his ships. He found also the people of these regions clothed in the
skins of beasts, yet not without the use of reason. He says also that
there are great numbers of bears in those countries, which feed on fish,
and catch them by diving into the water; and being thus satisfied with
abundance of fish, are not noisome to man. He says likewise that he saw
large quantities of copper among the inhabitants of these regions. Cabot
is my dear and familiar friend, whom I delight to have sometimes in my
house. Being called out of England by the Catholic king of Castille, on
the death of Henry VII. of England, he was made one of the assistants of
our council respecting the affairs of the new found Indies, and waits in
daily expectation of being furnished with ships in which to discover
these hidden secrets of nature.

[Footnote 9: Hakluyt, III. 29. quoting P. Martyr, Dec. III. Ch. vi.]

[Footnote 10: The Straits of Gibraltar are in lat. 36° N. which would
bring the discovery of the eastern coast of North America by Cabot, all
the way from 67-1/2° N. beyond Hudsons Bay, to Albemarle Sound on the
coast of North Carolina - E.]

[Footnote 11: The middle of the island of Cuba is in long. 80° W. from
Greenwich, which would have carried Cabot into the interior of Hudsons
Bay, to which there is no appearance of his having penetrated, in the
slight notices remaining of his exploratory voyage. - E.]

[Footnote 12: We have before seen that he named the country which he
discovered, the island of St John, and that he gave the name in this
part of the text, _baccalaos_, to the fish most abundant in those seas,
which we name cod. - E.]

[Footnote 13: It is probable this applies to the tide of flood setting
into the Gulf of St Lawrence or Hudsons Bay or both; which led Cabot to
expect a passage through the land to the west - E.]


_Testimony of Francisco Lopez de Gomara, concerning the discoveries of

Online LibraryRobert KerrA General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 06 Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea a → online text (page 1 of 51)